Record numbers for French immersion

A record number of students were enrolled in French immersion last year in the Prince Rupert school district (SD52).

The Prince Rupert school district reached record numbers of French immersion students this past year. Overall

The Prince Rupert school district reached record numbers of French immersion students this past year. Overall

Almost one in 10 Prince Rupert students are on track to be bilingual when they grow up.

A record number of students were enrolled in French immersion last year in the Prince Rupert school district (SD52), including a record number of kindergarten students (29), a report outlined last week by Canadian Parents for French – British Columbia and Yukon.

In total, 197 students took French immersion in the public school system in 2015-16, out of a total 2,072 students in the district – a 9.5 percentage of the student body.

Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) executive director Patrick Witwicki is not surprised by the statistic considering strong work done by both AFFNO and Canadian Parents for French (CPF) in the area.

“It’s been a collaboration that has worked well between Canadian Parents for French here and us,” said Witwicki, adding that AFFNO got involved with CPF after CPF was experiencing difficulty in finding members to join the board three to four years ago.

“Two years ago, with the arrival of families and young families in town looking for opportunities for their children, it led to a resurgence with the board of CPF and new members, and it also in turn led to more students being enrolled at the elementary school level in French immersion.”

The executive director stated that, when compared to other school districts across the northwest, Prince Rupert is a beacon of light for the immersion program, which has always had support from current and past school boards even when the Rupert population was dwindling years ago.

“It’s been a real nice breath of fresh air to be in a school district where the support for French immersion is there,” said Witwicki.

District principal of French programs and CPF member Andree Michaud echoed Witwicki’s sentiments on the district’s support for the program, one that has a very high reputation among teachers, parents and even the students.

“There’s a bit of a friendship happening. One thing that’s unique about the French immersion program is there is a bit of security attached to it, because the kids that start in kindergarten – the kids that are in that class will be in the same class when they’re graduating in Grade 12,” she said.

Approximately 5,000 Francophones live in the northwest region of Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Hazelton and Smithers, AFFNO’s website states.

As common as French has become in the region, Witwicki said AFFNO would like to see students not in French immersion learning both core French and the Coast Tsimshian dialect Sm’algyax, which they can currently choose one to learn in class.

“Hey, your kid’s a sponge. If he/she can learn two languages, then three languages is even better,” he said.

Last year, the grade with the highest number of students in French immersion in Prince Rupert was kindergarten with 29, with at least 10 students involved in every grade, except for Grades 10 and 11, with seven and five enrolled respectively.

As of late last week, 26 students are enrolled in kindergarten in French immersion for 2016-17.

Recruiting challenges

With the program on the rise throughout B.C., SD52 is finding itself in a battle with other school districts to obtain teachers able to speak and teach French.

“Recruiting is hard,” said Michaud.

“Some people prefer big cities like Vancouver. One of the things we have going for us is that the cost of living is a little bit cheaper, but there is a shortage of French teachers in the province, so we’re really competing.”

A supportive district makes a difference, added the principal.

“When we made the transition opening Prince Rupert Middle School [and closing the second high school years ago] we were well-looked after to make sure the program was still viable,” she said.

“Yeah, it comes with a bit of headaches and scheduling headaches especially making sure kids can access courses, and sometimes it’s difficult, but the district is very, very supportive and we’re lucky about that.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local health authority maps are updated each week. The brown maps show the number of confirmed and active cases of COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 15 to 21, with the blue map showing cases over the past year. (Image supplied)
COVID-19 outbreak numbers increase at Acropolis and exposures are up in S.D. 52

Business COVID-19 safety plans are law, public needs to follow health protocols - Northern Health

Asher Hauknes shows his strength with Prince Rupert Gymnastics head coach Erin Hipkiss looking on Nov. 13. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Gymnastics Association benefits from Community Gaming Grant

Prince Rupert sports club to receive just less than $90,000 to build new facility

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue was dispatched to a boat fire on Jan. 21 at Fairview Marina. (Photo: supplied)
Boat fire under investigation

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue attended boat fire at Fairview Marina

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read